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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs budget bill, ends partial government shutdown

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday signed a budget bill ending a partial government shutdown that became an embarrassment for him when he was photographed lounging on a beach that had been closed to the public for the holiday weekend.

Christie ended the three-day shutdown by signing a $34.7 billion budget measure that included reshaping the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, which covers 3.8 million people in the state.

Christie said all state parks and beaches would be open on Tuesday for the Fourth of July holiday and state offices would be open as usual on Wednesday.

He said he was happy a resolution had been reached on the budget impasse, but saddened it came three days late.

“This bill is a long overdue significant reform that will have a lasting impact on New Jersey residents,” he said before signing it into law.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney told a news conference: “None of this was easy.”

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Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said the agreement to end the partial government shutdown was reached after long talks in “crisis” mode on Monday with Horizon and state legislators.

Christie was ridiculed after a newspaper captured photos of the Republican governor and his family sunbathing on a beach that had been closed to the public over the holiday weekend due to the budget standoff.

New Jersey’s state parks closed on Saturday, forcing many to alter their holiday weekend plans. More than 30,000 state workers were on furlough on Monday.

In Maine, the state police, parks and offices responsible for collecting revenue all planned to work through the shutdown, the state’s first since 1991. But the majority of its 12,000 state employees will be furloughed.

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Members of Maine’s State Employees Association rallied outside the State House to demand a budget deal from lawmakers and Republican Governor Paul LePage.

About 10 U.S. states still do not have budgets for the fiscal year that began on July 1, including Illinois, which is in its third year without an enacted budget.

While states have mostly recovered since the 2007-2009 recession, their revenue growth has not always kept pace with the national economy. In some states without full budgets, including Connecticut and Pennsylvania, lower-than-anticipated income tax collections exacerbated budget gaps and led to disputes over how to close them.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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Lawrence O’Donnell throttles Donny Deutsch for saying Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Trump: ‘This is pure guesswork’

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Lawrence O'Donnell and Donny Deutsch had quite the exchange in the post-debate conversation on MSNBC Wednesday.

Deutsch tried to say that Sen. Elizabeth Warren's outstanding debate performance doesn't matter because Warren can't win in a match-up against President Donald Trump.

"I do not believe Elizabeth Warren, on stage with Donald Trump, beats him," he told the MSNBC panel. "And I think if we're honest with ourselves and we look hard at ourselves, I think a lot of people agree with me. It's — and I also think when you can label somebody a socialist, 57 percent of this country thinks that word is un-American. I'm not saying it's fair. When he can blanket Elizabeth Warren as a socialist, and he's on stage with her, the Democrats lose."

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Father and daughter drowning at the border fuels anger at Trump immigration policies

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A shocking photograph of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter drowned in the Rio Grande fueled a surge of emotion around the world Wednesday -- as US Democrats furiously denounced Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"Trump is responsible for these deaths," said Beto O'Rourke, one of several Democratic White House hopefuls who took to Twitter to lash out at the president.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image "gut-wrenching."

"History will judge how we respond to the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families & children -- we can't be silent," he said.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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